Manchester’s Burmese community gathered to pay tribute to the pro-democracy demonstrators killed in Burma since the military seized control in a coup on 1 February. Since the coup occurred there have been widespread protests across Burma against the military which has used increasing levels of violence to suppress the protestors calls to have their elected government reinstated.
Since the beginning of the coup, in the 70 days till the 11 April, 706 have been killed by the junta, 3059 have been currently detained or sentenced, and 657 have been issued arrest warrants, records the human rights group the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners Burma, (AAPP Burma).
Burma, also known as Myanmar, had its name changed in 1989 by a previous military junta government, with many Burmese people and nations such as the UK refusing to accept the new name.
Burmese student *Zin, who was at the event holding a placard showing political leader Aung Sang Suu Kyi, said. “We are here letting people know what is happening in Burma,” he went on to explain that the people out on the street protesting for their democratic rights in Burma are getting killed and that “even the children that have nothing to do with it are getting shot and killed”.
The current military junta government, took control, after Suu Kyi’s party, the National League for Democracy (NLD), won the election. The military refused to accept the results and a coup took place to prevent the democratically elected parliament forming.
Displaying a large red flag with a white star, protestor Thet explained it was the flag of the NLD, and that he feels that the current Burmese flag represents the military government and “not the will of the people”.
The protest started off by paying respect to the death of Prince Phillip as well as to the victims in Burma and continued with a showing of the three fingered “symbol of defiance to the military dictatorship in Myanmar” said a protestor called Chan. “People are afraid as even the street vendors get shot…..and no one know what happens when people get arrested.”
Chan told how one friend was in hiding as he had been injured during a protest and was afraid to go to the hospital as he felt that he would be arrested, and that the internet is off from 1am to 9pm and speculated that they only turned it on to accommodate banking and spread fear.
Protestor Ingyin, who held a sign showing the three fingered salute which said “I’m against all dictatorships”, says she does not know where her family is as they are in hiding. She explained that they went into hiding as “the military were on their street banging on doors and shooting people”. They were able to flee but she fears for their safety.
The rally ended with organiser Billy reading a poem, written by one of the participants called Letter to the Fallen Heroes.
*The protestors spoken to at the rally did not want their full names mentioned.
For the latest information from Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (Burma) – click here.
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Feature image in article photos and video: Dale Anne McAulay .